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As I finished my final manuscript for my winter 2010 release, one of my hardest tasks was the cutting of material. For the root odu of the diloggún, there are dozens upon dozens of stories, and I love them all. In the initial drafts, I wrote relentlessly. For the final draft, I cut considerably.

While all the patakís of the diloggún have strength, for the sake of storytelling, especially written, some are stronger than others. In the odu Ejila Shebora (12 mouths), I cut ten of what I considered the weaker stories from my manuscript.

This is one of the weaker stories I still love, and want to share with my readers. Why do I love it so much? When one of my goddaughters, Mandy, read it, she wrote to me, “For a man, your description of labor is so vivid that I swear I NEVER want to have a child. How can you make it seem so real?”

I answered her, “Because I have skills!”

Here is the story of the separation of twins. Enjoy!

Ócháni Lele


The Separation of Twins

The young girl lay in her bed, surrounded by women; she was exhausted, and in labor. With each contraction, she wanted to scream: With each contraction, she pushed, and then fell back into an exhausted heap. The pain was so overwhelming that she wished she could ball up, and die.



Her baby was coming. For nine months, she worried: She was too young; she was unprepared; she had no husband; she could not raise this child alone. Worries were far away from her now, and she felt only pain, and the increasing desire to push.



Instinctively, she grabbed both sides of her bed, the sheets ripping against her nails, as one final scream and desire to bear down overwhelmed her. As her own scream ended, a faint cry began where her voice trailed off, and she knew, “I am a mother.”



“It’s a boy,” one of the women told her.



Her body relaxed the way a body does when extreme pain ends; her muscles went limp, and a pleasant warmth rose where before there had been only agony. She was able to close her eyes, and breathe. This lasted only for a moment: the pain began again, deep in her belly. She panted. “Something’s wrong,” she gasped between breaths.



A woman parted her legs wider, and probed inside her with cold fingers. “There is another coming!”



It began again as a dull, deep throb, and then the pain burned deep in her belly. She felt herself opening up again, and cried as the baby slid out of her. She was too tired to scream.



Another faint cry came as the older women sighed in relief. “It’s a girl!” the same woman told her, smiling as if delivering great news.



Later, suckling her two children under the watchful eyes of her mother, she cried. “I cannot raise two children alone,” she told her mother. She was still sore from labor, and lay in bed, exhausted.



Her mother looked at her, worry on her brow. She herself had her own children quite young, but she had a husband and one child at a time. Her daughter was young, and alone, with two children at her breast. No man would want her now. The woman was old; she did not have the strength, or the health, to help her daughter raise babies. “There are many women who cannot have children, and would love to have a child such as yours. You can give one up, for adoption.”



“How do I decide? How can I give up just one?” The young girl sobbed the way young girls do when faced with a difficult question. She knew that even one child would be a burden, and there, she made up her mind. She would give both of her children up so they could have a better life. Her heart broke that day, but she knew that by giving them to another who had the means to raise them, she was making the ultimate sacrifice for her children. She did it out of love, because she loved them too much to have them suffer a life of poverty.



The boy found himself among the priests in Oyó; there, the temple priestesses raised him, and educated him. He served the orisha Shangó; never did he learn that he had a sister in a faraway land. Those in the temple had no idea that he was a twin. The girl found herself among the priests in Abeokuta, and there, the temple priestesses raised her, and educated her. She served the orisha Yemayá; never did she learn that she had a brother in a faraway land. Those in the temple had no idea that she was a twin.



Yet their lives were amazingly similar.



As each child matured, it found itself in service to the eldest and most powerful priest of the compound, and because their service was loyal, each learned the secrets of the orisha they served. It was a relationship borne of love, not duty, and all who came to pay homage to the city’s orisha found themselves in awe of their dedication and faith.



In time, when the eldest priest died, he left to his protégé all his wealth, possessions, and power. In their respective cities, the woman in Abeokuta and the man in Oyó, there was no priest with greater ashé, and everyone sought them out for advice and ebó.



Their wisdom grew; their fame spread, and each lived a life that their birth mother could not have given them. Her unselfish sacrifice gave her two children the chance to live a life greater than her own.



Still, no one ever knew that they were twins; and one child never met the other.





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The following comments are for "One of the cuts from the chapter about Ejila Shebora"
by OchaniLele

@ Everyone
Just so everyone knows, probably once a month, I plan on sharing one of my cut stories from each chapter of my book, which will be released in the Winter of 2010. Feel free to critique them -- I know they are weak, and at a later date, might return to rework them for other projects. It would be wonderful to have some constructive criticism with which to work.

And as a side note: I've already begun work on my next collection of short stories, which I will publish with Knickerbocker Circus! Katharlander, one of our own members, has such an incredible vision for her new publishing label, and so much talent and drive, that I would be stupid to NOT publish my next book with her.

As that project unfolds, I'll keep everyone posted!

Ócháni Lele

( Posted by: OchaniLele [Member] On: May 18, 2009 )

Wonder-full;-)
You make me proud old friend...rock on!



Karma Karma Karma Leeeee-na la la la la la la la la la-la da da dada;-)

( Posted by: TheRealKarmaTseringLhamo [Member] On: May 18, 2009 )

@ Lena
Well, thank you. It's a lot of work. I had today and yesterday off (after another 60 hour work week at the hospital), and here I sit, writing and working on the next book.

Drive and determination are 3/4 of the arsenal of a writer, it seems.

Back to work.

Ochani

( Posted by: OchaniLele [Member] On: May 18, 2009 )

Separating the good from the bad
Is there any kind of metaphor here about separating the good stories (which are like a writer's children) from bad?
kmrdgrs326

( Posted by: kmrdgrs326 [Member] On: May 22, 2009 )

@kmrdgrs326
That's a very good question!

No, I don't think I was presenting a metaphor when I spoke of separating the strong stories from the weaker stories.

One of a writer's hardest jobs is to take a good, cold hard look at his own work and decide what works, and what doesn't. For my upcoming volume with Inner Traditions, I had to decide which of my stories were strongest: which had strong characterization, plot, etc. And, I had to decide which stories were weak in those regards.

In my collection of short stories, it was, literally, survival of the fittest! Those that didn't meet my personal standards were removed from the collection. More than likely, I'll return to them at a later date and rework them.

Thanks for the question. I hope this answers it.

Ochani

( Posted by: OchaniLele [Member] On: May 25, 2009 )

On the cuts
Nice job my freind!I have a niave question. Are these original stories or based on lore? The one thing I might humbly suggest - I liked the begining of the story. The reader can connect with the pathos of a terrible and too common situation. I can't connect to the children other than in an off-hand way. It has a snapshot quality. The children are supposed to be special but I'm left getting that it is because they are priests? I get the lesson, but would want more about the children - what real qualities? What examples of their specialness and why they rose to such a high state? I imagine most of my nit-picking is because I know so little of your faith - and maybe in 'there' - more needs to be revealed. I know - "One story - man, give me a little room!" And your right. I liked it.
Thanks

( Posted by: jonpenny [Member] On: June 2, 2009 )

@ jonpenny
As always, thanks for noticing my work!

To answer your question, these stories are based on traditional folklore and oral myth. This story, basically, consisted of a few lines in its original form:

"This odu (Ejila Shebora) speaks of a mother who gave birth to twins. She had no husband, and sent them away. The girl child went to the priestesses of Abeokuta, and the boy child to Ile Ife. And in their respective towns, by serving the eldest priests, they became wealthy and power when the temple priest died."

That's just from memory. It really is a fragment, and I worked to turn that into the story you just read.

Unfortunately, I agree with you -- not much happens in the end. It is a total letdown to anyone NOT truly searching for information on the lore of the diloggun's odu. Therefore, it got cut.

There are other tiny stories and sayings about what happened to these twins throughout their lives, and when time permits, I might revisit this and weave all those things in.

Thanks again -- and just because you don't know about my faith doesn't mean you aren't qualified to critique my writing! If you're missing something as a reader, then chances are that others are missing and noting the same thing. Fortunately for me, I myself noticed this before I submitted the final manuscript, and had the courage to delete a piece that just wasn't working.

:) Ochani :)

( Posted by: OchaniLele [Member] On: June 3, 2009 )

@OchaniLele
And - here is the thing. Whether my humble opinion matters or not - I was intriqued and found myself wanting more - that being the hope for your book - you have already succeeded. Thanks

( Posted by: jonpenny [Member] On: June 3, 2009 )





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